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J Physiol. 2010 Mar 1;588(Pt 5):821-9. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.183558. Epub 2010 Jan 18.

Effects of intrauterine undernutrition on hypothalamic Kiss1 expression and the timing of puberty in female rats.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Institute of Health Biosciences, University of Tokushima Graduate School, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.


Recent studies have suggested that intrauterine undernutrition is closely associated with the pathogenesis of diseases after birth. Perinatal undernutrition is known to disturb the development of reproductive function and delay the onset of puberty in some species. Using a rat model, we determined the effects of prenatal undernutrition on the development of the hypothalamic kisspeptin system and evaluated whether the alteration of the kisspeptin system contributes to the delayed onset of puberty induced by prenatal undernutrition. We also evaluated the effects of prenatal undernutrition on the developmental changes in serum leptin levels because leptin was a putative positive regulator of the hypothalamic kisspeptin system. We compared the timing of vaginal opening (VO) and the developmental changes in body weight, hypothalamic Kiss1 mRNA levels, and serum leptin concentrations between offspring with prenatal undernutrition (UN offspring) and normal nutrition (NN offspring). After birth, the UN offspring showed rapid growth and had caught up to body weight of the NN offspring by postnatal day 12. After postnatal day 16, the UN offspring showed significantly lower Kiss1 mRNA levels than the NN offspring, despite their significantly higher serum leptin levels (at days 20 and 28). The timing of VO in the UN offspring was delayed compared with that in the NN offspring, and chronic central injection of kisspeptin normalized the timing of VO in the UN offspring. These results suggest that decreased hypothalamic kisspeptin action contributes to the delayed onset of puberty in prenatally undernourished female rats. Increased leptin resistance in the kisspeptin system might be involved in these alterations.

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